I came across this article this morning on my Facebook feed.
TL;DR*? That’s okay, I’ll summarize.
In “The hipster is dead, and you might not like who comes next”, David Infante coins a new word to describe himself and people like him; Millennials living in urban areas who are willing to take uncertain, poorly paid positions so long as they allow for some form of creative expression/fulfillment/validation. These folk want to start their own artisanal businesses, and hopefully get rich quick off their creative talents.
And despite their financial struggles, these folk are ultimately privileged. They trust the system (and their families) to carry them through hard times. They’ve never been screwed over enough to give up their dreams and take a sensible job.
Infante calls himself, and those like him, Young Urban Creatives, or “yuccies”. (Like “yucky”, get it?!) More sensible than the hipster, poorer than the yuppie, but full of “creative entitlement”.
This is myopic, self-hating nonsense, and I’m tired of it.
The problem is not the “yuccies” themselves, but a dwindling supply of good, stable jobs on “traditional career paths” coupled with a complete lack of respect for creative types. I’ve experienced this lack of respect first hand, and it nearly destroyed me.
I can’t just watch this crap go viral without responding, so here’s my story.
At fourteen, I discovered my deep love for creative writing, specifically long, speculative fiction. I had always been good at writing, I loved to read, and I had a penchant for literary analysis — maybe I should have figured out who I was sooner, but I managed it at fourteen.
I started telling people.
My high school was entirely unprepared to help me achieve this kind of goal, and actively worked to quash it. A surprising number of people thought it was supportive to talk to me about “day jobs” and “alternate careers”, and to remind me that the odds would not be in my favor. It’s no wonder I wound up clinically depressed and burdened by generalized anxiety by the time I was fifteen.
I spent the next decade “finding myself” — that is, turning into a failure.
I dropped out of my prestigious university. I moved back into my parents’ home, jobless and unable to function. I took random classes at a community college, hoping that bit of structure and the achievement of completed classes would galvanize me into… something. I floated, cushioned from real hardship by the incredible luck of having a generous and loving family, but bleak and barren inside.
And my psychiatric medication killed my creativity, the very thing that would eventually help me pull myself back together.
From my perspective, Infante’s “yuccies” are functioning much better than I did. Privileged or not, they’re making pragmatic choices. They’re walking a thin line between self-expression and “making it”, and managing it as creative work is increasingly outsourced overseas, underpaid, or divorced from any kind of stability.
Infante decries his own choices and the choices of other young, creative types — but that’s just whining, wishing he could have his stable job cake and decorate it too.
He decries the privilege of “yuccies”, but just how useful is all that child-of-middle-class guilt? It isn’t going to break down income inequality, raise minimum wage, strengthen our social safety nets, get us universal health care, bring paid vacations, sick leave, and family leave to American workers, end racism, classism, or sexism, or even feed, clothe, or house the needy. Know you’re privileged, be grateful for it, be generous to those you meet who aren’t, and vote socialist so we can share the privilege around.
He decries his need for constant validation — well, that’s almost a good point. “Yuccies” may be needy, but that’s a perversion of their natural creative drive. We’re told we need to make something of ourselves — and make money — and are given few opportunities to do it without killing our souls. Public funding for the arts is pathetic. Try to talk STEAM instead of STEM, and everyone but Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks you’re coddling drug-addled theater majors.
It isn’t easy to be an artsy, creative person. If you can be something else, that might be in your best interest. But if you can’t, if your soul will sicken without self expression, take your genius by the horns. Every career path is uncertain now, so get that artsy degree. Turn down that boring job. Don’t worry so much about the opportunities you’re missing, focus on the ones you have.
You’re not “yuccie”, you’re an Artist. And don’t let anyone tell you differently.
*for those who aren’t hep to internet acronyms, this one means “Too Long; Didn’t Read”